What are season rates?
'Season' or ‘event’ rates are rates that differ from your base rate. They give you the flexibility to offer different pricing for specific periods of time, such as peak season, shoulder season and off-season. They can also be used for weekends, holidays or specific events in your market. Setting season rates is a simple yet powerful way for you to earn more and fill up your calendar.
Where to start
Most holiday rental markets have at least three seasons:
- Peak season
- Shoulder season
However, some markets have up to six or seven distinct seasons, while others have just one year-round rate.
If you’ve rented your home for a while, you’re likely familiar with the ebb and flow of your particular market. If you’re fairly new to renting, a good starting point for determining the right rental seasons for your home is to research other holiday rental properties in your market.
Setting specific rates for each of your market’s rental seasons, as well as for major holiday weeks, will likely increase your overall occupancy and rental revenue. While there are no hard-and-fast rules for choosing rental seasons since every market is unique, here’s a general overview of the three most common seasons and holiday pricing:
What is peak season?
Peak season is the time that travellers are booking their holidays. Most holiday rental markets have a peak season of at least 10 to 12 weeks. Since this period is in such high demand, you can typically charge higher rates and have longer minimum stays.
Typical rental rate: Your highest weekly rate
Minimum stay: One week
What is off-season?
The off-season, or slower season, tends to be the time of year when the weather is less than ideal for your holiday rental market’s main outdoor attraction (skiing, beach, etc.). Travellers who holiday in your market during the slower season likely stay for either a few days (weekend getaways) or a few months (escaping the cold weather), so be sure to display your nightly, weekly and monthly rates. Your off-season rate is usually considerably lower than your peak-season or shoulder-season rates.
Typical rental rate: 25% to 30% of your peak-season rate
Minimum stay: One to three nights
What is shoulder season?
The shoulder season tends to run right before and right after the peak season. These weeks can be a little bit harder to book than the peak season but will be easier than the off-season. Your shoulder weeks may warrant a lower rental rate than your peak weeks (60 to 75% of the peak rate). For example, if you charge $800/week during the peak season, you might charge $480 to $650/week during the shoulder season. Consider lowering your minimum stay during the shoulder season to fill up your availability.
Typical rental rate: 60% to 75% of your peak-season rate
Minimum stay: One to three nights
Public holidays and special events
Many travellers plan trips around major holidays in order to work around school calendars. The most popular weeks tend to be around Easter, bank holidays, Christmas and New Year’s. Since these weeks are in such high demand, you should charge a bit more for them and require a longer minimum stay in many markets. Don’t forget special events like major sporting events or business conferences and festivals that could be happening in your market.
Typical rental rate: 25% to 200% of your peak-season rate
Minimum stay: Three nights to one week
Before setting your rates for the year, sketch out a rough calendar that includes:
Major holiday weeks: In many markets, you can charge a little bit more for high-demand holiday weeks like Christmas, New Year’s or bank holidays.
Bank and other holidays: Don’t forget other holidays like Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. In many countries, bank holidays are also prime days for travellers to take quick two-to-three-day getaways.
School breaks: Check the school calendars for large cities within driving distance of your home (or if you’re in a fly market, check the school calendars where many of your guests come from). Specifically, determine when schools finish for the summer, when they start back again and any breaks lasting a week or longer.
Annual events in your market: If your market hosts an annual event that brings crowds of tourists into town, make sure that you take note of it. If the event is large enough, you may even be able to charge an inflated rate due to the scarcity of available accommodation.
Setting the right rate
Depending on your market, travellers could be booking several months to even a year in advance of their travel date, so it’s important to have your rates set up at least six to twelve months in advance.